Almost anywhere you find artwork, you'll find someone ready and willing to teach you how to create some of your own.
Northwest Ohio is home to the newly coined "Maumee Valley School" of nature painters, three generations of artists whose works were celebrated last fall at a Maumee gallery. The glass workshop at Toledo Museum of Art is considered the birthplace of the "Studio Glass Movement" and was for years a place where the nation's teachers came to learn techniques they later carried round the world.
In the Toledo area in 2000, there's no shortage of art to view, buy, borrow, and marvel at . . . and there's no shortage of people and places to go to learn to make masterpieces.
Public schools boast some remarkable teaching talents, with Bowsher, Whitmer, and Anthony Wayne High School students dominating many local youth art shows. Toledo School for the Arts opened its doors this school year to students who want to focus their education in the arts. The school, in the old Secor Hotel at 425 Jefferson Ave., uses art as a basis for learning all subjects. "The idea is that students who study the arts excel in lots of other areas," said Martin Porter, school director.
Students at the University of Toledo Center for Visual Arts often find success in art, graphics, and photography. Their work is displayed in the sunlit spaces of a Frank Gehry-designed building adjacent to the art museum. Uptown, Davis College offers associate degrees in design, illustration, and interiors. Adrian, Bluffton, Tiffin, Findlay, and Bowling Green all boast post-secondary art programs at respective campuses and have produced many distinguished alumni artists and teachers. Talented city teens each summer can learn to earn as artists at the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo's Young Artists at Work program.
There are even more offerings on the community-based, weekend-artist level.
One nexus of the art-lessons community is the Common Space Center for the Arts, once a Reynolds Road schoolhouse, and now home to artists, writers, dancers, sculptors, and the Arts Council of Lake Erie West. Creative people from preschool to seniors gather here for after-school, Saturday, and weekday programs. Painters rent out studio spaces in the classrooms, yoga and ballet classes fill the auditorium, and homegrown artwork hangs in the hallways. The center takes its message of art and creativity into the community, too, with outreaches to city-center schools and juvenile offenders. It even sends the work of Ohio artists on international tours. Common Space Two, at Hill Avenue and Holland-Sylvania Road, offers additional space for the arts-minded to work out their visions.
Farther afield, the Wassenberg Art Center in Van Wert and the Mansfield Art Center provide lessons and gallery space to area residents.
For the Love of Art first appears to be a picture-framing shop at a commercial plaza at Central Avenue and McCord Road. But six days each week, the place buzzes with dozens of students learning to draw and paint from popular teachers like Robert Schira, Rita Visser, and Jeri Madsen.
Another fine place to learn is at the little village of art groups in Toledo Botanical Garden on Elmer Drive. Toledo Potters Guild, Spectrum Friends of Fine Art, Toledo Friends of Photography, and Toledo Artists Club have studios here, and individuals and groups can learn technique from an array of craftsmen. Many group members offer individual lessons, and a call to the organization can put a would-be Picasso in touch with a ready teacher.
It's no secret that the Glass City is home to many fine glass artists, some of whom offer lessons to beginners. Many agree the best place to begin is Toledo Museum of Art, whose furnaces have hosted some of the finest glass artists in the world. Other area glass studios, like Gallery B, Labino Studio, and Glass City Blews, can offer referrals.
But key to the Toledo art education equation is the Toledo Museum of Art, a powerhouse in grass-roots art education. Few are the homegrown talents who don't include it somewhere on their resumes. Eileene Rafferty, 82, still etches Toledo scenes on clear glass, and sketches and writes stories and memories for future books. In a September interview, she said that she attended art classes at the museum from age 8 straight through high school.
"The museum was like a second home to me," she said.
For aspiring artists from early childhood through adulthood, the museum's Family Center and education wings offer tours and hands-on lessons in metalsmithing, sculpture, drawing, painting, printmaking, and many levels of glassmaking. The museum alliance with the University of Toledo Center for the Visual Arts translates to print and glass study rooms, studio and gallery spaces, and a strong fine-arts library.
The museum recently embarked in a $45 million expansion program, and visitors may soon enjoy an outdoor sculpture trail and upgraded galleries.
Toledo has no corner on arts education in the region. There's a movement afoot in Grand Rapids to start an Arts Commission there. Delta High School last year added a new arts wing to its campus. And new galleries, clubs, and art fairs spring up here and there throughout the area with some regularity.
At the top of the local art food chain are private dealers like Jim Barrett, whose J. Barrett Gallery at the 4840 Monroe St. has served Toledo's most discriminating collectors and sellers of art for 20 years.
Barrett appraises, buys, and sells artwork through a network of galleries and dealers worldwide and outfits the office suites and homes of area elite with items tailored to particular tastes and pocketbooks.
Frederick Cohn made his name providing outstanding shows and works by contemporary American artists, artisans, and sculptors. He continues to provide appraisal, sales, and art-buying services to a private clientele at his Executive Parkway headquarters.
Downtown galleries provide more public access to artwork old and new. At 20 North Gallery at 20 North St. Clair St., Peggy Grant oversees one of the area's finest art display spaces. The wide corner windows of this former storefront let sunshine illuminate changing displays of art from all over the world. Upstairs, local artists work in rented studios among exhibits of local historic art.
A short walk away on Huron Street is Gallery B, a warehouse transformed into a glassmaking studio and gallery space dedicated to Toledo's trademark craft. Ralph Behrendt, the artist-in-residence, opens the gallery for periodic shows, takes his works on the road, and rents upstairs lofts to area artists and illustrators. The proposed Mud Hens stadium project will close this building, but Gallery B hopes to reappear at another, even-better downtown location in the spring.
Farther down the street, the SeaGate Gallery at One SeaGate gives daytime shoppers a look at the work of emerging artists while keeping on hand popular and affordable items of art and craftwork. It showcases works of artists allied with Common Space..
Throughout downtown, visitors can enjoy several pieces of public art and sculpture, much of it the result of an active Toledo Art in Public Places committee of the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo.
Those who enjoy finding art at the source can visit artists' lofts at Summit Street Studios, a cooperative warehouse full of studio spaces. Other artists work at rented studios at Collingwood Arts Center in the Old West End, and Common Space Center for the Arts on Reynolds Road.
But local art is moving beyond the gallery walls, with original pieces cropping up in hospital lobbies, industrial parks, coffeehouses, restaurants - even a Sylvania beauty salon.
Jim Funk opened J. Funk Fine Art, Inc., in 1998, placing a new gallery in one of Maumee's oldest buildings. Special shows change about once a month, and local artists of past and present are featured alongside nationally known artists.
Art buyers and browsers can satisfy their urge at antique stores, as well. One room in the Perrysburg Antiques Market is dedicated to a constantly changing range of original artwork. Pieces by I. Abramofsky, Earl North, and other local notables have turned up at the shop. At the new Erie Street Antiques arcade, one rental space is dedicated to paintings by the "Maumee Valley School" of artists.
In Sylvania, American Gallery continues to introduce regional and national artists' works to its Toledo area audience. The Franciscan Center on the Lourdes College campus presents rotating shows of local works in its Arcade and Loft galleries.
The Art Concept at Reve is a new idea in an upscale salon and spa setting on Sylvania's Main street: works by local and regional artists are, presented on a rotating basis along with haircuts and body wraps.
Institutions that teach art almost always have lively gallery scenes. The galleries at the University of Toledo Center for Visual Arts are an ever-changing look at up-and-coming talents. Studios at Adrian College, Davis College, Bowling Green State University, and the University of Findlay turn out plenty of artwork for school displays. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor boasts a full-size art museum, set among a vibrant town full of art, art fairs, and galleries.
Other area galleries include:
Muse Gallery, 8 West Mews, downtown Maumee; Angelwood Gallery, 24195 Front St., WaterVille.
Flatlander Gallery, 11993 U.S. 223, east of Blissfield, Mich.; Ancestor House Antiques and Collectibles, 3148 Tremainsville Rd., Toledo; Chapman Galleries, featuring paintings by Walter Chapman, 5151 South Main St., Sylvania.
Ottawa Gallery, 6625 Maplewood Ave., Sylvania; Croswell Gallery in Croswell Opera House, 129 East Maumee St., Adrian; Sofia Quintero Hispanic Art and Cultural Center, 1224 Broadway, Toledo.
Fenwick Galleries, 3433 Alexis Rd., Toledo; 20 North St., Waterville, and 7644 West Central Ave., Sylvania.
Local glass studios include Glass City Blews and McGlauchlin Glass Studio at 1940 West Central Ave., the U.S. Glass Studio and Outlet at 1367 Miami St., East Toledo; Studio B at 32 North Huron St.; and several stained glass artists and manufacturers who operate from home-based studios.